Winter Favorites 2009

Winter Favorites 2009 Recipe

It seems like a good time to post a winter favorites list. You all helped me out greatly last week with your suggestions about where I should go when I get to Tokyo and Kyoto - what better time to return the favor and highlight a few of my favorite things on this end? I'll start by telling you about a little project I've been working on in my spare time - Super Natural Recipe Search. It is a custom search engine that will help you find recipes made primarily from minimally-processed, natural, sustainable, and whole foods. So, if you liked the type of recipes published in Super Natural Cooking, my hope is this search engine will help you find more recipes created in a similar spirit by cooks, writers, and chefs other than myself. If you end up linking to it, let me know and I'll be sure to add you to the friends link list.

Switching gears a bit - I went to the Winter Fancy Food show a couple weeks back, and anyone who has ever been to it knows there is a sea of highly-processed food to wade through. That being said, there are quite a lot of small producers with remarkable products who go to exhibit as well. I drop in most years with the hope of finding them. A few favorites from this year:

Ayala's herbal water - This is simply herb-infused water (using organic herbs). Lightly flavored, no sugar, no artificial flavors, no bubbles. I liked the ginger lemon peel flavor, but the woman next to me was really loving the more pronounced flavor of the jasmine vanilla (note: I'm not a huge jasmine fan). And I'm just noticing that Ayala has a blog too.

The Valentino Felicetti Selezioni Monograno spelt pastas looked wonderful. Beautifully packaged fusilli, penne rigate, rigatini, spaghetti, linguine, and ditalini made from semi-whole wheat organic spelt flour.

Vignette Wine Country Soda: Tasty, sophisticated, and sweetened only with whatever varietal grape juice each is made from - no added sweeteners. I liked the rose' - subtle, crisp, refreshing.

One of my favorite reasons to visit the show is to taste the range of honeys that come from around the world. I've mentioned in past years that I'm hooked on the Chilean honeys (which you can order and find a bunch of places. Zingerman's stocks the Ulmo honey, and they've been the only ones to carry the rare Chilean honey from wild strawberry flowers). There were some other honeys that caught my attention this year as well...

Mille Envies de Miel - Mountain honeys from the South of France (Ariege region). And while I'm the first to say I love straight, raw honey - Pascal Verriere's creamy honey with cinnamon was really nice. Soft and creamy honey on the front end with an slow, spicy, subtle cinnamon glow on the finish.

Don't miss the Alili Moroccan mountain honeys - stunning - all three of them. Do yourself a favor and track down their jujube honey.

I chatted with the Ancient Organics Ghee guys. I've been a fan ever since I bought a jar of it at a market in Pt.Reyes Station. Produced locally from organic Straus Creamery butter, it makes everything taste just that much better.

For those of you who avoid dairy, I came across a cashew and almond milk that was quite nice - they are marketing it as a cream substitute, for use in any recipes calling for cream. Hence the name, MimicCreme. Worth tracking down for sure, it had nice mouth-feel and body to it.

Terra Sonoma Saba: I met Karin Warnelius years ago when we found ourselves in a week-long letterpress class together. At the time she (and her family) were producing verjus from grapes on their ranch in Geyserville, California. Now, in addition to the verjus, they have a new product - an extravagantly rich (limited production) rustic purple saba made from wine grape must reduced down into a sweet, oozy syrup - perfect for drizzling. It won't be available until March, but I suspect if you email her through her site, she can let you know when it is released.

The cult of Poco Dolce is strong here in San Francisco. We're talking about chocolate tiles that envelope a range of ingredients burnt caramel, mint toffee, ginger, chile, etc. Each tile is topped with grey sea salt. There was a new product being sampled at the show. Now Kathy is making "bites"...a bit larger than a postage stamp. They're bite-sized, and also less expensive than tiles. Hard to beat as far as bite-sized treats go. I'm not sure when you'll be able to order them off the website, but I suspect soon.

Lola Granola - really great small-batch granola. It also happens to be wheat-free and vegan. Oats, almonds, cashews, brown sugar and maple syrup are combined with a short list of other ingredients and just the right amount of salt. You can choose from two types - with raisins or without. Bonus points for very cute packaging.

And beyond the food show, I'll cap things off with a few random favorites: goodtea on twitter, love the Nike+ system for tracking my reluctant jogs, The Great Backyard Bird Count, The Photographic Dictionary, and who can resist Toast Bandages?

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Comments

  • Is it too late to make a couple of suggestions for Japan? I didn't have time to read through all your comments so hope these aren't redundant. If you visit Tawaraya (the oldest ryokan in Kyoto) don't miss the delicious soba restaurant just nearby and the even more amazing soba cookies (addictive!) at the adjacent bakery. Also, seek out the store that has been handmaking beautiful & utilitarian household brushes for hundreds of years. In Tokyo, be sure to go to a tempura bar--it is unlike anything you have ever experienced in the States...

    lchavezs
  • Another great cooking tool! I'll use it and talk it up.

    Rachelle
  • The search engine is wonderful! Thank you! Your recipes have broken me out of a rut, and I enjoy cooking them as much as eating them!

    Caride
  • I just heard about the Super Natural Recipe Search engine. Awesome! I linked to it.

    Kristin
  • As a previous Ann Arbor resident, it's so nice to see people giving props to Zingerman's! I love all their honeys.

    Sandy
  • i suggest that you visit Ueno, Okachimachi, Ameyoko area for sure and just walk 10-15min to Kappabashi where kitchen tools shop area between Ueno and Asakusa on weekdays. if you would like to experieice local Japanese food mostly take out area called Sunamachi Ginza. The variety of local food and ingredients are sold at reasonable price and it is cooked fresh in each shops. when people live close there, do not need to cook by their own, just go there and get fresh food. i garantee you can satisfiy seeing the area, Togoshi Ginza as well. if you would like to get super fresh fish, sashimi, tempra, grilled or so, Uosan in monzen Naka cho. I took fish business people from US, Singapoe and europe there and they overwhelmed the quality of Uosan's fish. it is told that owner has Tsukiji's auction membership so he can get super-fresh fish to his shop. the price is low. the place is izakaya, place for sake, so they do not serve rice. it is not fancy but worth trying. the best time is 4:00pm and people start queing before 4:00 and seat at 2nd floor is the best if you go there 2 people, more than 2, you will be led to 3rd floor on Tatami room.

    min
  • What a great idea of search engine..You are genious. thx for all the work.. btw, I do not have a blog/website of my own..But, would still like to be in your friend's list. How do I do it? HS: Hi Gayatri, you could certainly add me as a friend on Facebook if you happen to use that site.

    Gayatri
  • Heidi, I have noticed recently that when I go to your page from my Yahoo page, I get an interim page with part of the article on it and a line at the bottom that I have to click on to see the entire article. Is there some way I can go straight to the article without having to go thru this interim step? On the other hand, I LOVE the capability to print the recipe with the picture. Thank you so much for that feature! I also love your recipes. They are so healthful, beautiful to look at, delicious, and original. I have NEVER fixed one I did not like. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing with we less talented mortals. An ever grateful Elizabeth in North Carolina HS: Thanks for the nice note Elizabeth. I don't include the recipe in my RSS feed (this is what you are pulling into your Yahoo page). There were a bunch of sites that were republishing my entire feed, and I decided to crop the feed before the recipe. Sorry for any inconvenience.

    Elizabeth
  • I really love the photo in this post and it's soft, dreamy atmosphere. Also, thanks very much for the new search engine! Thanks Manias, it is a funny, cotton looking plant in the front yard the house of one of my neighbors.

    maninas
  • Eating Hot, hot Items in winter is very greatful.

    chirs
  • Just added the search engine to my site -- loving this idea :) HS: Thanks Nirvana - I'll add you to my list when I update that page later today!

    Nirvana
  • I'm a great fan of ghee and make my own batch of this liquid gold. The best ghee comes from my grandmother's kitchen in native India. Apart from the taste, ghee is believed to have medicinal, healing, restorative, regenerative and curative properties.

    anushruti
  • I love the recipe search! I'm the founder and president of my university's chapter of Slow Food on Campus, and I've made many of your recipes for our monthly potluck meal meetings. How exciting to have access to even more ideas now! I've linked the search on my humble little blog and mentioned it in my most recent post!

    Sara
  • What a wonderful concept! I love it. I want to add a widget or button to my blog as well as write a little post. However, everything on my blog is scaled for a width of 120. Is it too much to ask for something in that width? HS: I'll add it to the to-do list!

    Jules
  • Wow - the search engine is fantastic. Serious thanks for all the work that went into it! I'd love to have my recipes included. They're all baked goods made with only whole grains and natural sweeteners. I'll send you some info soon.

    ashley (sweet & natural)
  • Wow - the search engine is fantastic. Serious thanks for all the work that went into it! I'd love to have my recipes included. They're all baked goods made with only whole grains and natural sweeteners. I'll send you some info soon.

    ashley (sweet & natural)
  • Wow, good work with the search engine. Very impressive. HS: Kalinda, you've got some great-sounding recipes on your site. I'm going to add some of them. Thanks for the heads up. -h

    Kalinda
  • Remind me to write you a gushing letter full of fangirlish ooh's and ahh's on Ada Lovelace Day. Your words about the search engine reminded me that you've really strived to use tech to make information on healthy food more available to users. Thanks!

    Madeline
  • I love the new search engine and I added a link on my blog in hopes of giving my readers more ideas. Thanks!!! HS: I saw that Katie, thanks! I added you to the friends page - you're one of the first four :)!

    Katie
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